an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

main street

Main Street: 2011

Main Street Carnegie

West Main Street, Carnegie, PA

Looking down West Main Street in Carnegie on a sunny day. It’s perfectly flat and straight for several blocks, but each building is different, some are homes, some are businesses, some have signs, some have flowers, they are brick and wood and aluminum siding, they have decorations and they are plain, and even the utility poles add their complication of cross braces and wires.

Summer Morning, Main Street

photo of main street in carnegie
photo of main street in carnegie

Summer Morning, Main Street

It’s not a special day or special event or anything out of the ordinary, in fact it’s quite ordinary all around, just a quiet summer morning on Main Street in Carnegie, like so many I remember through the years. I wish I’d had my DSLR instead of the little point and shoot, but this captured the details and colors pretty well.

I’ve got quite a few photos of Main Street in Carnegie, many posted on this blog, since I’m there nearly every day sometimes visiting the Post Office and the bank as well as other businesses, and even after so many years—I bean visiting Main Street with my parents just a little over 50 years ago—I can always find something new about it.

I also have a photo exhibit of images of Carnegie, including Main Street and a few other galleries, and an exhibit of paintings of Carnegie as well. I don’t get much of a chance to get away, so I work with what I see around me.

Main Street, July 4

vintage-looking photo of Main Street Carnegie
vintage-looking photo of Main Street Carnegie

Main Street, Carnegie, July 4, 2012

Just another in my series of sun-and-heat-drenched photos of my town done in a sort of vintage look.

post card of Main Street Carnegie

The Penny Post Card, not certain of the year.

I always associate Independence Day with small towns and parks and such. Carnegie’s Main Street looks much as it did when I was growing up, and that much like it did when my parents were growing up.

Below is a “penny post card” of Main Street from an unknown year and a slightly different angle, but you’ll recognize the image. See other photos of Main Street, Carnegie.

Blessings: 2011

tibetan prayer flags in window


As proclaimed from a third-story apartment window on Main Street in Carnegie.

Thank you.

Illuminated Blossoms

illuminated pear trees

Illuminated blossoms.

Even though I wanted to capture the colors I adore on Main Street, I loved the illuminated blossoms on the pear trees, blooming early and transient, I’ll have other chances to catch the turquoise and purple and red.

Carpicorn Watches over Main Street

black and white photo of building detail


This is a decorative element on the face of the Masonic Hall on Main Street in Carnegie. When clear evening sun hits it the facial detail is evident, but the sun wasn’t at the right angle yet this year. Still, I like the effect in black and white.

Blossoms at Night

Pear Trees at Night

Blossoms at Night

The pear trees along Main Street in Carnegie are blooming already. Here it looks as if each tree has its own inner light. The row of mature and well-shaped trees look airy and elegant against the turquoise dusk sky of a spring evening.

Traditional Details

details on building

Traditional Details

A little bit of filigree on the front of the Husler Building in Carnegie washed by early evening sun. They are made of embossed tin and have lasted more than 100 years decorating the front of the building.

This building houses the Historical Society of Carnegie and was originally a theater downstairs and dance hall upstairs. Later it was a bank then was bought by the daughter of the man who ran the theater decades before to house the Historical Society.

Main Street: 2011

photo of main street in carnegie

Main Street, Carnegie, PA

Main Street in Carnegie in the late afternoon, late winter light.

I like the rainbow.

Evening Lights: Painting

paintings of buildings and streets at night

Evening Lights, acrylic on canvas © B.E. Kazmarski

As I walked home from an errand this evening, this is what it looked like.

I didn’t paint this today or tonight but on a similar in April 2006; the warm temperatures make it feel as if it’s a month later than it is. But in that year for some reason the perfect turquoise twilight of spring and the clear fresh air was suddenly inspiring to me to paint the tiny lights reflected on Chartiers Creek, the wash of streetlights on the fronts of buildings and deep shadows behind and between, and that big sky above it all.

I also decided to paint all this in paints, not pastels or watercolors or anything else I was accustomed to using. I had been studying painting techniques and wanted that tactile, dimensional quality of paint, the wet that dried, applying daubs of pure color in one place and then letting two or more colors mix on my brush in another place.

Beginning with three 8″ x 10″ stretched canvases, brushes and paints I’d gotten for nothing from a friend whose painter aunt had passed away, I thought this was the best way to capture the deep colors of the night scenes.

To Catch a Cloud

trees, sky and cloud

To Catch a Cloud

Two trees use their bare twigs and branches to snag a passing cloud.

This changeable March weather brings heavy rains, high winds and clear blue skies with puffy clouds, all in the same afternoon.

Along Chartiers Creek and the railroad tracks just off Main Street in Carnegie, PA.

Colorful Stars on Main Street

wreaths with holiday lights along light posts

Main Street Wreaths

Carnegie’s holiday decorations light up the street.

Hmmm, how can I make a street I photograph all the time look a little different from the last year? Well, get out the cross-screen filter for starters so that each light or highlight in the images has extra interest; I like to set the cross a little off-kilter, not a plus-sign, not an “X”, but something in between. Next, use the 70-300mm zoom lens and manual focus so just the very first light and wreath are in focus and all the rest, all the wreaths all the way down Main Street to Washington Avenue, are successively blurred just a little each step of the way. Even the stop lights look festive, as noted in a holiday song. I liked the effect.

Last night as I was crouched to photograph this in a fairly dark spot on Main Street, I frightened a couple of teenage guys who apparently didn’t see me before I suddenly stood up very near to them, and the shuttle that takes residents from one of the local nursing homes on their errands stopped, opened the door and looked at me, then went on. I photographed this last year as well, and included a story of photographing where people don’t expect it, including hunching down in the dark by a wall wearing a cape and having the police stop to ask what you’re up to.

All Roads Lead to Carnegie

Banners on Main Street in Carnegie PA

Main Street Banners

Our everyday banners in Carnegie line up neatly along Main Street and add color with a few awnings. In a few weeks these ornamental pear trees will turn to bronze.

I designed these banners for the Carnegie Community Development Corporation and Carnegie Borough to replace the set of turquoise banners we’d had for at least six years.

The phrase came from a stop I made at a convenience store out in the middle of nowhere while actually only about 15 miles from Carnegie—rural southwestern Pennsylvania is like that, wooded hills and open fields and numbered state roads. Remembering another visit out that way I knew one of the roads I was on led right back into Carnegie from out there, windy and hilly, but no turns.

I asked the clerk, “Which one of these roads leads to Carnegie?”

She paused and considered for just a few seconds. “All roads lead to Carnegie,” she said, as if it was a fact that everyone knew.

It’s true too. Carnegie, even though only six  miles outside Pittsburgh, was once a hub for all the small towns to the south and west, and looking at a map, especially before the interstate, all those state and county roads do lead to Carnegie.

Main Street at Twilight

main street in carnegie at twilight

Main Street at Twilight

The first block of East Main Street in Carnegie, PA at dusk.

I have no idea how my little hand-held digital metered the colors like this, but I heartily approve! Honestly, this is not touched up in any way, even though the sky looks as if I either added from another photo, I adjusted the color in that area or I just painted in another sky.

The time of day was twilight, after the sun dropped below the horizon but still reflected on the sky and the thin overcast of clouds. I know I pointed my focus spot on the darkest area in the scene, way down at the other end of Main Street, the building that is actually on a hill in the next community, and that would have influenced the internal metering especially since the scene looks very bright although it’s only the street lights that provide illumination. I can assure you they are not that bright.

And likely the yellow lights also pushed the complementary blue of the sky a little brighter than it actually was. However it happened, I approve.

This was taken with my little Lumix point and shoot where I have very little control, but the other settings that would have influenced this outcome are two I’ve always set on these little cameras. First, I turn the stabilizer mode, which will help to eliminate blurriness in low-light conditions, to “off” because in these small cameras it simply changes the ASA setting to a higher number. This results in a photo that looks great in your view screen, but when you open it up on your computer it’s completely grainy. I use a tripod, or, as in this case, I find something to set the camera on or press it against and set the shutter for a 2-second timed delay so that everything is as still as it’s going to get when the shutter finally opens.

Second, I set the EV, or exposure value, setting two or three steps below the middle. Most cameras shoot light so that as much light as possible gets into the lens, but you also lose detail in the highlights and I find it doesn’t meter well for images with a lot of contrast, which is usually what attracts me.

So, I guess that’s how this one turned out like this.

The Tired Sunflower

sunflower leaning on post

The Tired Sunflower

She’s resting her head on one of the posts along Main Street, making a striking image of contrasting colors. Was this sunflower ready to lie down and become bird food…or did she have a little too good of a time on Saturday night?

sunflower in front of bar and liquor store

Known by the company she keeps.

Main Street

Main Street Carnegie

West Main Street, Carnegie, PA

Looking down West Main Street in Carnegie on a sunny day. It’s perfectly flat and straight for several blocks, but each building is different, some are homes, some are businesses, some have signs, some have flowers, they are brick and wood and aluminum siding, they have decorations and they are plain, and even the utility poles add their complication of cross braces and wires.


tibetan prayer flags in window


As proclaimed from a third-story apartment window on Main Street in Carnegie.

Thank you.

Main Street

photo of main street in carnegie

Main Street, Carnegie, PA

Main Street in Carnegie in the late afternoon, late winter light.

I like the rainbow.

Remember This in August

partially frozen creek

Cold Water

Not quite frozen though the temperature was minus 1 degree when I walked to the post office and bank first thing this morning. Chartiers Creek was rimmed with ice and frozen over in the shallower areas, all was still and quiet except the slowly flowing water; even the hardy ducks were keeping in their nests until later. Bright, clear and sunny, but sometimes those mornings are the coldest.

When I make this walk this coming summer I’ll remember this frozen morning.

Main Street Lights

photo of main street with holiday decorations

Main Street Light Up

Carnegie’s Main Street features new holiday decorations, lit for the first time on this Light-Up Night in Pittsburgh, which I couldn’t approach for all the extra traffic the previous evening.

The photo’s not so great, but it was a little difficult to convince one of Carnegie’s finest that I was neither involved in something illicit nor bowing to pray to the railroad crossing sign. Well, it was Saturday night.

And why would I take such risks to get a good image of Carnegie? Read about my current exhibit of photographs of Carnegie.

Any photographer will tell you that you usually don’t get the best shot standing upright and focusing the camera normally. Sometimes you need to climb a tree, run into the middle of traffic, ford a small stream or hang sideways off a bridge to get the shot you’ve got in mind.

Before digital I cruised the trails, woods and streets with up to four film cameras, each with a different lens and film. You can change all these settings and lenses now, but with film cameras you’ll ruin an unpredictable amount of film if you remove a lens or take out one roll before it’s done and replace it with another. Needless to say, all this camera gear was heavy, especially if I was also packing art materials.

grasses and sun

Grasses and Sun

A few years ago in autumn I was enchanted by the nodding heads of various grasses trailside, and seeing the big clear blue sky with big bright sun overhead decided to try to get various shots of the grasses with the sun and sky behind. I laid down next to the trail and took my shots, moving around as need be, then sitting up, my heavy backpack hindering me so that I had to push myself up from the ground.

A bicycler was watching, uncertain, and asked, “Do you need some help?” in a tone that indicated physical help wasn’t what he had in mind.

“No, I’m fine,” I said, “just getting the best shot I can, it’s a little difficult to get up with all this stuff.” I laughed and thanked him. He looked unconvinced, and kept his eye on me as he moved away.

carved pumpkin cat and figure

Cat Pumpkin

More recently, I was photographing Jack-o-Lanterns along the trail at the Panhandle Trail Night Walk by lying flat on my stomach on the trail and setting my camera on a little three-legged thing that’s handy for photographing items close to the ground. I was careful not to do this when people were headed for me since, even with the bright moon, they’d never see me before they’d trip over me.

I heard, “Oh my God, what happened?!” “I don’t know, is that someone laying on the trail?” “I can hardly see!” The voices were rapidly approaching, and I really wanted to reassure them I was okay, just taking photos, but I also wanted to focus and get my shot before the candle in the Jack-o-Lantern went out. So I compromised by not moving anything but my mouth but saying cheerily, “I’m fine, just photographing the pumpkins!” They, too, seemed unconvinced, and perhaps a little upset that someone would try to frighten them that way, perhaps thinking I was going a little too far and really didn’t need to lie flat out on the trail in the dark to get the good photo.

So on Saturday I was walking home from a performance at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library Music Hall some time after 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night. I always carry my little camera and often carry a small tripod for evening and night shots, but didn’t have it with me. I tried setting the camera on the street, but got a lot of the street in the bottom of the shot and still not a good angle of the lights.

I walked a little farther to the Main Street Bridge which has concrete railings along the sides and at a right angle at the end because railroad tracks cross right there, hence the railroad crossing sign, just a little reminder to pedestrians not to walk in front of a train. This hip-height concrete wall was just the right height to set my camera on and get the perfect angle down Main Street.

I turned on my little camera and set it on the wall, then knelt down behind it, clicking away with different exposures by focusing on different things in the image.

I heard a car coming up on the street, and realized that I was dressed in my long black wool dress coat, black walking boots (even with my dress) and a big long shawl wrapped all around my head and shoulders to keep warm in the night air. I either looked like a garbage bag leaning against the wall, or perhaps a terrorist in a burqua or a long black robe and headpiece lurking and pointing a gun at unsuspecting motorists or who knew what. I thought briefly of a few innocent people who had been arrested or even shot for appearing suspicious, decided one of the shots I’d taken had to be good, stood up quickly and turned a little holding my little camera where it could be clearly seen.

The officer rolled down the passenger window. “Everything okay here?” he politely asked.

Most of the officers know me at least to see my since I’m involved in many things around town, but I was so bundled up I might not even recognize myself.

“Just fine, officer,” I said brightly, trying unsuccessfully to remember his name, “just getting a shot of our holiday lights and the new decorations. I was using the wall as a tripod.”

Unconvinced again. “Okay, I just thought I’d check and see if you were…okay.”

“I’m fine, officer, thanks for your concern, and have a good night” I said as I turned my camera off and dropped it into my pocket.

Until the next adventure…read about my two photo exhibits at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, “Carnegie Photographed, 14 images of Carnegie” and “Of Harps and Fig Leaves, photographs of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall”.


Shoes left at an interesection


Sometimes I wonder. Someone left an awfully nice pair of shoes behind here, one nicely placed on the wall. It’s a weekday, and the shoes look quite new and very nicely made. Waiting for a president to come by to give them a toss? Guess I’ll never know, but there may be a short story in there.